Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Medawisla

Published on November 15, 2012 by Casey

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Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Medawisla

Name: Medawisla

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Tribal affiliation: Abenaki, Penobscot

Alternate spellings: Mdawilha, Madawilha, Medawihla, Mathawila, Mdaweelh, M-da-weelh-ak

Pronunciation: muh-dah-wee-lah

Type: Loon

Related figures in other tribes: Kwemoo (Micmac)

In Wabanaki folklore, the loon plays the role of messenger and loyal friend of the culture hero Gluskabe. Medawisla is something of a spy (always observing the people and reporting his findings to Gluskabe,) but since Gluskabe is such a benevolent figure, Medawisla is viewed positively nonetheless. The name “Medawisla” literally means “spirit bird” or “magic bird,” because of his associations with Gluskabe. The loud, eerie cries of the loon were often said to be Medawisla’s reports to Glooscap about the activities of men.

Source: native-languages Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
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Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Medawisla Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: September 18, 2014).

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"Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Medawisla" Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 18 Sep. 2014. <>.

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Did You Know?

John Bennett, of the Chickasaw Nation, was the first Native American in space. On the evening of Nov. 23, 2002 his Space Shuttle launched and he would spend the next 11 days in orbit.

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